THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Indigenous Health
December 1 2010
The Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, today announced the Australian Government is providing more than 400 pieces of medical equipment to help reduce the rate of hearing loss among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Mr Snowdon welcomed the equipment, pointing out that hearing problems affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at a higher rate than non Indigenous Australians.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are thought to have the highest prevalence of chronic middle ear infection in the world,” Mr Snowdon said.
“Some studies suggest that more than 10 per cent of Indigenous children aged 0 to14 years have ear or hearing problems, compared with just three per cent of non Indigenous children of the same age. This is a serious problem as hearing problems in early life can have impact on language acquisition and performance at school.
“This situation is obviously not acceptable and the Government is committed to putting in place measures to promote ear health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”
Mr Snowdon said the specialised ear equipment—otoscopes and tympanometers—is being delivered to Australian Government funded Aboriginal Medical Services and a number of state and territory funded primary health care services.
More than 20 sites across the Northern Territory will receive equipment, benefitting communities such as Wadeye, Groote Eylandt, Nguiui, Kalkaringi, Hermansburg and Yuendumu.
Almost $1.4 million is to be provided to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), to develop and deliver accredited training in ear health for Aboriginal Health Workers.
In all, the Australian Government is investing $58.3 million over four years to improve ear and eye health for Indigenous Australians.
In addition to the purchase and maintenance of medical equipment for ear and hearing screening, funding will be available for:
- training of health workers in ear health
- additional ear surgery and Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) services
- support for ear health services within primary health care
- ear and hearing health promotion activities.
Support has already been provided for a two-day national symposium to discuss the development of ear health training in Sydney, followed by a one day equipment orientation training for Aboriginal Health workers delivering ear and hearing services in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.
Proposals have also been sought from state and territory governments for additional ear surgery, ENT services, and clinical leadership to support primary health care services to prevent, detect, treat and manage ear disease.
Editor’s note: Photos will be available of the Minister using the new equipment after 1 December. For a copy please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Contact: For more information contact the minister’s office on 02 6577 7280